Book immortalizes golden era of college basketball in Baltimore

Timothy Thompson didn’t wish to see such a formative golden age of native basketball historical past fade away into the ether, left solely to oral historical past handed down from era to era. He needed to verify the story — the entire story — was correctly preserved.

As soon as he retired, Thompson, 67, got down to interview dozens of former gamers, coaches, athletic administrators, college presidents and scribes. His first e-book, “Renaissance: Baltimore School Basketball In the course of the Nineteen Seventies,” released in March on Amazon, spends over 650 pages reliving what he calls the right storm that created a magical period of Baltimore hoops.

“The chapters chronologically, or systematically, introduce the weather of this excellent storm,” Thompson stated. “There was a number of expertise within the Baltimore metro space that was untapped by exterior recruiters who thought of Baltimore at the moment to be sort of a backwater space.”

These recruiters most popular New York, Philadelphia or Washington. That left what Thompson calls an untapped gold mine of rising basketball expertise in Baltimore that stuffed space school rosters.

Thompson has a private tie to the interval, having been a Towson State scholar within the Nineteen Seventies.

He as soon as stood shoulder to shoulder together with his school buddies to observe the Tigers and College of Baltimore duke it out within the outdated Towson Middle. He discovered himself swept up by the drama of what was then town’s chief basketball rivalry, the flare of that 1976-77 season that Thompson considers the climax of the renaissance.

Towson, coached by Vince Angotti, and College of Baltimore, headed by Frank Szymanski, have been “replete with Baltimore stars” and “beneath recruited expertise” from their very own yard. The Tigers have been the No. 1 ranked group in NCAA Division II. And the Bees had solely three losses, all from 4 regular-season conferences with Towson.

These packages met within the Mason-Dixon Convention championship with a visit to the Division II match on the road. It was an extra time thriller, determined by three factors in Towson’s favor after a miracle comeback. Standing room solely. It’s the quilt of Thompson’s e-book, exhibiting the Tigers’ Brian Matthews pump-faking UB’s burly middle Cleveland Rudisill and sharpshooter George Pinchback.

Thompson, on the time, couldn’t totally recognize the nice outdated days. It wasn’t till years later {that a} school course task gave him the thought for a e-book on that wonderful period.

Towson State's Brian Matthews (right) pump fakes University of Baltimore's Cleveland Rudisill and George Pinchback in the 1977 Mason-Dixon Conference championship, the game that Thompson considers the climax of the Baltimore college basketball renaissance. (Sun file)
Towson State’s Brian Matthews, proper, pump fakes College of Baltimore’s Cleveland Rudisill and George Pinchback within the 1977 Mason-Dixon Convention championship, the sport that creator Timothy Thompson considers the climax of the Baltimore school basketball renaissance. (Solar file)

Thompson returned to Towson within the early Nineteen Nineties to get his grasp’s diploma in skilled writing. One among his professors had broadly assigned the category to jot down one thing that will match the mould of a contract journal characteristic.

“I don’t know what it was that compelled me to decide on this subject,” Thompson stated. “However I began mulling what had occurred. I used to be now a grown up and it was the early 90s, so I might replicate on what had occurred. So I started speaking with a few of the gurus of basketball within the space.”

That school task got here and went. Thompson received his diploma and moved on together with his life. However the concept to additional discover the subject sat behind his thoughts for many years. His household usually probed him, asking, “When are you gonna write that e-book?” He stated there have been two driving forces for returning to chase such a undertaking.

First, he by no means misplaced an appreciation for that interval of basketball. As the sport advanced and town hoops panorama reshaped round him, Thompson usually thought again to how particular and aggressive that point was. The opposite motive is that “school basketball in Baltimore is sort of a pathetic shell of itself now, in contrast with the 70s.”

That Towson-UB recreation was the climax of the renaissance. However the roundball tectonic plates started to shift one Saturday afternoon in February 1973 with what Thompson and lots of others think about essentially the most well-known recreation in Baltimore historical past.

Dunbar walked into the Civic Middle and upset storied nationwide powerhouse DeMatha Catholic, 85-71. DeMatha fielded future Corridor of Famers Morgan Wootten and Adrian Dantley and had downed Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) earlier within the 12 months. The Poets, a metropolis public college, have been led by the masterful 39-point efficiency (22 within the fourth quarter) of Allen “Skip” Clever.

“The most effective factor that Dunbar-DeMatha recreation did was carry publicity to Baltimore, and eventually affect recruiters to come back right here,” Clever, thought of by many to be town’s finest participant ever, as soon as stated. “There had all the time been exceptionally good gamers right here, however they weren’t pushed.”

“That rocked the basketball world,” Thompson added. “When exterior recruiters lastly found the apparent: That children in Baltimore can actually play.”

That recreation turned the eyes of the nation to Baltimore. School recruiters got here round extra. They slowly began plucking expertise and the youngsters have been blissful to flee Baltimore for Division I packages. The mid-70s gave prominence to the final of an excellent period: a Morgan State nationwide title in 1974, a Coppin State NAIA nationwide title in 1976, Towson and UB as perennial top-five powers and UMBC steadily a top-10 contender.

By 1978, when lots of these premiere DII packages of the Mason-Dixon Convention jumped ship for DI, the renaissance confronted its curtain name.

Thompson’s e-book recollects in nice element a gathering that would have modified the course of Baltimore school basketball historical past.

Szymanski pitched the thought in an athletic director assembly within the late 70s. If that’s the case most of the colleges have been climbing as much as Division I, why don’t they make an effort to inform the NCAA they’d make the transfer as a joint bundle? In accordance with Thompson’s interviews with these within the room, most of the basketball coaches have been on board and believed the governing our bodies would have allowed it.

Just about everybody else laughed Szymanski out of the room.

This assortment of nice native basketball, compelling rivalries and nationwide powerhouses was quickly dismantled and bought for components. Recruiters took discover and lured top-flight expertise out of the state. Native colleges couldn’t stockpile Baltimore’s most interesting the identical manner they as soon as might.

Thompson’s last of 19 chapters, titled “Harm Evaluation,” his self-proclaimed dissertation, is a autopsy of life after the renaissance. That was his most difficult chapter. And it was as a lot for him as anybody else.

“I’m not writing in regards to the Cuban missile disaster or COVID-19 pandemic,” Thompson stated. “That is basketball. However, I took the subject severely within the notion that I’m gonna dedicate this e-book to the gamers and coaches and even writers who created this for us. The e-book is de facto devoted to them.”

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